Monday, January 21, 2008
Ringo Starr is probably my least favorite Beatle. I don't know why, there's certainly nothing wrong with Ringo. In fact, there is actually an awful lot to like about Ringo--he's funny, always smiling, and unlike the rest of The Beatles he always seemed so down-to-earth.
George was a speed freak--blazing across the English countryside in flashy European sports cars. John lived with a crazy artist...and the less said about his and Yoko's TWO VIRGINS album the better. Paul is Paul. As a Beatle fan he's the one guy we all love to hate. He's pompous, rich beyond belief--but so incredibly stupid. Between embarrassing himself both personally (marriage #2) and professionally (selling the rights to The Beatles songs, what are you daft???). But what has Ringo ever done? He was in a silly caveman movie...he worked on Thomas the Tank Engine for PBS. Ringo is harmless. And despite being the oldest of The Beatles, he's still alive and kickin.
Still, poor Ringo was the worst songwriter in The Beatles--which is probably why I know the least about his solo career. But being the worst songwriter in The Beatles is like being the poorest Billionaire on the block. In 2005 he pimped CHOOSE LOVE on Little Steven's Underground Garage and I snapped it up, it was great! Very poppy/silly rock. Sorta like Velveeta, cheesy (and unhealthy) but strangely satisfying.
LIVERPOOL 8 is the closest thing to a "serious" album that Ringo's probably ever going to put out. Four of the twelve songs actually have the word "love" in the title. The rest are all pretty much about love, too. This isn't a bad thing, but it seems to be Ringo's trademark. Everything "love" and "love"-related. Lyrically, Ringo can be a little too cute for his own good..."you are mine" rhymed with "sun will shine," that sort of thing. Despite it's simplistic nature, you don't feel embarrassed for him because...well it's Ringo and he sings it so damn earnestly.
It's a ringo album, so the drumming is fantastic. Though I wouldn't call this a country record, Ringo has always had a blues/country element to his music and that's here too. This is best heard in "Now That She's Gone Away" which is blues-lite number. The album's title track, "Liverpool 8" is all about his life, it's pretty good, but nothing really to write home about. For me, the best track is the very last one "R U Ready?" Now, don't let the stupid spelling fool you, this is actually one of the deepest, most spiritual songs I've ever heard. That's the thing about Ringo, he's very cheeky/silly and then WHAM!!! Turns out he can write a song about spirituality better than Lennon and Harrison (both of whom, wrote some really good spiritual songs). "R U Ready?" his a banjo-laden country romp through all the major religions--and how in the end, heaven is there for all of us ("all roads lead to heaven, no matter what they say..."). Plus is has a nice guitar AND banjo solo, sweet.
The album is better than it's individual parts (that's called "album writing" children). Fantastic that this sort of thing exists in 2008.
Three cheers for Ringo.
Jason gives LIVERPOOL 8 a "B."